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Cycling in tandem for over 60 years

Graeme Cox, who is 86, tells us that the highlight of his life was meeting his wife Betty. Betty, who’s now 91, is still cycling in tandem with her husband of over 60 years. In the last 16 months alone, they’ve cycled over 1,700 miles, and don’t see themselves stopping anytime soon.

They met when Betty was on a girls’ holiday. “One night we went to meet together in the church and Graeme happened to be there,” she tells us.

“As soon as I met her, I said, ‘You better buy a bike’” Graeme remembers. “I had a 48-mile round trip after work to go and see her. “She wouldn’t speak to me when I got to the house – nobody would – The Archers were on!” Graeme laughs.

Since then, they never, ever went on the bus – they always cycled if they needed to get somewhere, even on their honeymoon. “We took our bikes on the train to Bournemouth,” Betty says.

Through their shared interests and learning to compromise over the years, Betty tells us that she’s “enjoyed every minute” since they’ve been married.

“People say you’re never still on that bike are you, I say “Yes! I’m taking it up to heaven!”

Their first daughter was born the August after they got married. They wrote to Cycling Magazine to ask how soon before the birth Betty could ride, and how soon after.

“About six weeks before and six weeks after” they were told. So, six weeks after, the tandem and sidecar were outside the house and all their neighbours told them, “You can’t do that, surely!” – but they did!

In their years together, Graeme and Betty have travelled – and cycled – all over the world. From Lands’ End all the way to New Zealand. In Canada, they cycled over the Rockies – 893 miles in three weeks to be exact. They’ve cycled in Ireland, Brittany, Norway, and even Los Angeles whilst waiting for their flight to New Zealand!

black and white photo of Graeme and Betty on their tandem bike

“I think being in the fresh air is the best thing ever,” Betty says. During their life together, they’ve had four tandem bikes. They enjoy cycling tandem as you can do more miles than if you were on individual bikes. Graeme explains that even though you sometimes come home and you “want to throw your bike over the hedge, the next morning you’re back on form, and you get this feeling of fitness and health.”

“We’ve carried on as if we haven’t got old,” Graeme continues. Five years ago, Betty was diagnosed with bowel cancer. But thankfully, because she was so fit from riding, she was only in hospital for eight days.

“I feel marvellous, to be honest,” Betty tells us. “I thought she’d been to the dentist she looked that well (after the surgery),” Graeme adds. “It was a miracle really – I had 73 get well cards,” Betty says, “You can’t buy your health”.

Graeme and Betty eating an ice cream together

Betty and Graeme’s biggest piece of advice is to not try and keep up with the Joneses. “Don’t live beyond your means,” they say.

“That’s the best thing about getting older,” Betty says, “you live carefully and don’t have worries” like you might do when you’re younger.

“I can’t regret not having done anything earlier – we’ve done whatever we’ve been able to,” Graeme says. “We’re fortunate – more fortunate than a lot of people. But sometimes you’re at the top of the mountain and sometimes you’re down in the valley,” Betty explains.

When talking about maybe having to stop riding one day, they say that as long as they’re able to do it, they will. “You’re never too old to ride. Each day is a bonus at our age,” Betty says. “It’s either that or sitting in the house watching the telly!” Graeme laughs.

SunLife offers a range of straightforward and affordable products including over 50s life insurance, funeral plans, equity release, pet insurance, home insurance, car insurance, ISAs and Will writing services.

Here's the information that you need to know about who we are and the other companies that we work with in order to provide our products and services.

Who are SunLife?

Phoenix Life Limited trades as SunLife and is the provider of the Guaranteed Over 50 Plan, SunLife Insurance and the life insurance policy payment option for Funeral Plans. Phoenix Life Limited’s registered office is at 1 Wythall Green Way, Wythall, Birmingham, B47 6WG (registered in England, no. 1016269). Dignity Funerals is not authorised or regulated for this activity by either the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority. Dignity Funerals Ltd is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

SunLife Limited distributes financial products and services and is a company limited by shares, registered office: 1 Wythall Green Way, Wythall, Birmingham, B47 6WG (registered in England, no. 05460862). SunLife Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and is entered on the Financial Services Register (registration no. 769427).

You can contact us by post at SunLife, PO Box 1395, Peterborough, PE2 2TR or by phone on 0800 008 6060.

If you choose to add Funeral Benefit Option to your Guaranteed Over 50 Plan the funeral services are arranged and provided by Dignity Funerals Limited. Dignity Funerals Limited is a company registered in England and Wales No. 00041598. VAT registered No. 486 6081 14. 4 King Edwards Court, King Edwards Square, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, B73 6AP. Telephone No. 0121 354 1557. Fax No. 0121 355 808. Part of Dignity plc. A British Company. Dignity is not authorised or regulated for this activity by the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority but is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

Who provides the Funeral Plans?

Dignity Funerals Ltd arranges and provides the funeral services. Dignity Funerals is not authorised or regulated for this activity by either the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority. Dignity Funerals Ltd is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

The life insurance policy that pays for your funeral will be provided by Phoenix Life Limited, trading as SunLife.

Who provides My Smarter (ISA)?

My Smarter (ISA) is provided by Scottish Friendly Asset Managers Limited. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Details can be found on the Financial Services register, registration No. 188832. Member of The Investment Association. Registered Office: Scottish Friendly House, 16 Blythswood Square, Glasgow G2 4HJ.

Who provides the Will writing services?

Hugh James is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA Number:303202).

The information contained on this website is based on Hugh James' understanding of the law of intestacy in England and Wales only as at April 2014. The law in Scotland and Northern Ireland is significantly different. This is for information purposes and is not intended to be legal advice.

Who provides Family Life Insurance?

SunLife Family Life Insurance is provided by Scottish Friendly Assurance Society Limited which is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Details can be found on the Financial Services register (registration number 110002). Registered Office: Scottish Friendly House, 16 Blythswood Square, Glasgow G2 4HJ. 

Who provides SunLife Pet Insurance

SunLife Pet Insurance is arranged and administered by BDML Connect Limited. BDML Connect Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (No. 309140). Registered in England and Wales Number 02785540. Registered Office: 45 Westerham Road, Bessels Green, Sevenoaks, Kent, TN13 2QB.

Who provides SunLife Home Insurance

SunLife Home Insurance is arranged and administered by BISL Limited and underwritten by a panel of insurers. BISL Limited are an intermediary authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England no. 03231094. Registered office Pegasus House, Bakewell Road, Orton Southgate, Peterborough PE2 6YS.

Who provides SunLife Car Insurance

SunLife Car Insurance is arranged and administered by BISL Limited and underwritten by a panel of insurers. BISL Limited are an intermediary authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England no. 03231094. Registered office Pegasus House, Bakewell Road, Orton Southgate, Peterborough PE2 6YS.